A Guide to Allyship
Black Lives Matter & Why “All Cops are Bastards”
All credits are posted below; last updated on June 24th, 2020
On May 25th, 2020, George Floyd was in Minneapolis on business, far from his family and community, when four Minneapolis police officers murdered him in broad daylight. It was a modern day lynching as those police officers served as judge, jury, and executioner on an unarmed, non-violent, handcuffed Black man.
He was dragged from his car, pinned to the ground, and choked even as he begged for air by officers using unnecessary and deadly force.
Video of the incident clearly shows the officer, Derek Chauvin, employing a deadly chokehold as Floyd repeatedly states, “I can’t breathe.” He was non-violent, unarmed, and begging for mercy in broad daylight, yet both officers present at the scene continued to use illegal force until it was too late.
We must contact those in power and urge them to defund the police, support those fighting on the frontlines in the global protests, and donate to the people and organizations who need it the most right now.
May 26th: All four police officers are fired.
May 27th: Protests begin and police attack mostly peaceful protestors indiscriminately with tear gas, rubber bullets, flash-bangs, pepper spray.
May 28th: MN Police’s 3rd Precinct HQ is set ablaze. Trump publicly endorses shooting the protesters.
May 29th: Officer Derek Chauvin is charged of 3rd degree murder and manslaughter. Floyd's family calls to #RaiseTheDegree especially as Officer Chauvin and Floyd were coworkers for 17 years.
May 30th: Protests spike nationwide and hundreds are arrested and injured for their activism.
June 1st: An independent autopsy confirms that George Floyd died of “asphyxiation from sustained pressure,” whereas the initial report cited his cause of death to pre-existing medical conditions and potential drug use.
June 2nd: Protests continue globally. LA and NYC impose the harshest curfews in decades.
June 3rd: Chauvin is now facing second-degree murder, and the remaining 3 officers face charges as well.
June 4th: Breonna Taylor’s case is reopened, just before what would’ve been her 27th birthday (June 5th).
*** No more daily updates from this point on but the TLDR is that the protests continue globally, protestors have taken down statues of slave owners and colonizers, there has been incremental change nationwide ***
Stop sharing videos of Black people being murdered. There are many other ways to bring awareness and to make a point that doesn’t include exploiting or exposing Black trauma over and over again.
Stop sharing images of the faces of protesters. Ferguson activists died violently and/or mysteriously in the years since Mike Brown’s murder. You could be saving lives by not sharing. (@hinadirah)
Stop perpetuating performative activism and centering these tragedies on how good of an ally you are. You should not expect to be complimented or rewarded for being anti-racist. Instead, share information, donation links, petitions, resources, and educational materials.
Stop demanding your Black peers to educate you on social issues. Instead, read up on your own on how to be anti-racist and educate yourself with the following information and resources provided in this document.
Stop playing devil’s advocate when discussing racism with Black people.
Demand justice for those killed at the hands of police: emailforblm.com
Demand the defunding of police and to reallocate budgets toward education, social services, and dismantling racial inequality: defund12.org
Do NOT demand for #8CantWait. It calls for police reform instead of police defunding, thereby increasing the number of tools and technologies police can use against us as well as increasing the scale of policing. These reforms don’t do enough to hold police accountable. “Reducing police violence by 72%” is not enough. Instead, demand for your local officials to fire cops, eliminate their budgets, and disarm the police.
New York Times: Why “All Lives Matter” is such a perilous phrase
Harper’s Bazaar: Why you need to stop saying “All Lives Matter”
The claim that individual cops can be good is rooted in white supremacist mythology that suggests racism is an individual act committed by anybody. Policing is not a question of individualism. It is not as if a random individual gets a gun, a badge, a police car, and a blue uniform. The police are a highly organized institution with systemic power. In order to understand any institution, it is important you start with the history of that institution, the institution of modern day policing evolved from the slave patrol system.
To suggest that there are good cops is like saying there’s good slave patrols or good colonizers. It acts as if policing is an individual act that isn’t a product of racial capitalism. A cop might have “good intentions”, but these good intentions don’t change the fact that they are a part of a system that is rooted in anti-Blackness. These “good intentions” don’t change the fact that the system they work for criminalizes the whole Black community.
The danger of “not all cops are bad” is that it opens up discussion for police reform as opposed to how what we really need to do is abolish the existing racist system that gave us cops and prisons in the first place.
“Cops are a necessary cornerstone of safety in a modern civilized society.”
“There are a few ‘bad apples’ that often make the whole look worse but the number of good cops still outweighs the number of bad ones.”
“The police state was originally formed out of discriminatory practices made to uphold racist and prejudiced ideas. This in tandem with a systematically flawed incarceration system disproportionately affecting brown people make the police, as a system inevitably biased and destructive to society.”
“Any position of power, specifically one able to determine the life or death of another person, will attract those who have narcissistic and psychopathic personalities, in which the abuse of their authority is not only what drives them, but also what ends up contaminating the system in its entirety, seen in how it’s looked down upon for a cop to report another cop, thus letting this cycle continue and grow.”
It is imperative to defund police departments across the country immediately, instead redirecting that money to Black futures and marginalized communities.
There is an incredible amount of investment going into Black and brown communities. But it’s going into criminalizing them. In Chicago, 17.6% of its budget ($1.5 billion) goes to the police, versus a collective 5.4% ($450 million) going to the departments of planning and development (which handles affordable housing), public health, family and support services, and transportation.
Policing doesn’t work. While crime was at historic low levels in 2015, American police managed to kill 1,146 people that year. Policing can’t be reformed by technology, and cameras aren’t slowing down or stopping police killing sprees. Even when officers know they are on video, they still seem to have no trouble killing.
The safest communities don’t have the most cops; they have the most resources.
Our policing systems are not working, and we need to replace them with something new. We need to reinvest in communities and strengthen other forms of conflict resolution outside of the ones upheld by racist and sexist institutions.
Police do not truly “serve and protect” most people. They must be demilitarized, disarmed, defunded, and eventually abolished. You’re probably wondering: What’s the alternative? What’s a world without police?
As a society, we have been so indoctrinated with the idea that we solve problems by policing and caging people that many cannot imagine anything other than prisons and the police as solutions to violence and harm. Alternatives to the police can exist when we rely on family, friends, and neighbors instead of calling the cops. There are community solutions for transformative justice – there are areas across the world that have pushed out police entirely, instead reinvesting in communities, building local grassroots power, and strengthening other forms of conflict resolution so that policing gradually becomes obsolete.
Another world is possible.
Protesting is a valid and justifiable expression of frustration toward our political system, and it highlights the disconnection between the people and the political establishment in both parties. Many problems highlighted by peaceful protests are ignored until a real disturbance is created.
By drawing attention to some of the real despair in destitute communities, riots can push the public and leaders to initiate real reforms to fix whatever led to the violent rage.
In the aftermath of riots, grievances long ignored now have to be taken into account – a strategy is now needed to undermine the new boldness of those no longer content to suffer in silence. To turn the tide against injustice, we need movements that are relentless, escalating and with a broadening base of participation.
If it weren’t for “bad protesters” looting, the media might pay no attention at all. If protesters hadn’t looted and burnt down that QuikTrip on the second day of protests, would Ferguson be a point of worldwide attention? All the non-violent protests against police killings across the country that go unreported seem to indicate the answer is no. The media’s own warped procedure instructs that riots and looting are more effective at attracting attention to a cause. No matter how peaceful and well-behaved a protest is, the dominant media will always push the police talking points and the white-supremacist agenda.
As Raven Rakia puts it, “In America, property is racial. It always has been.” The idea of blackness was invented simultaneously with American conceptions of property: via slavery. The earliest working definition of blackness may well have been “those who could be property.”
On a less abstract level, there is a practical and tactical benefit to looting. Whenever people worry about looting, there is an implicit sense that the looter must necessarily be acting selfishly, “opportunistically,” and in excess. But why is it bad to grab an opportunity to improve well-being, to make life better, easier, or more comfortable? White people deploy the idea of looting in a way that implies people of color are greedy and lazy, but it is just the opposite: looting is a hard-won and dangerous act with potentially terrible consequences, and looters are only stealing from the rich owners’ profit margins.
Don’t call the cops. You may need to think more about this one, especially if your first reaction is "but they keep us safe!" There's tons of research on why the police don't actually keep us safe.
Unearth your internalized anti-blackness. Reflect on how anti-Blackness shows up in your life – we often miss our own biases. Be intentional about finding these blindspots. This can show up more when feeling panic, fear, anger, etc. leading to actions like calling the police.
Challenge the model minority myth. When Asians are characterized as polite and law-abiding citizens with a higher level of success than other people of color, it's used as a racial hierarchy to perpetuate anti-Blackness.
Educate your family and friends on the injustices Black people face globally. Talking to your relatives is uncomfortable, but as non-Black people, we have the responsibility to try. We must explain the clear differences between our parents’ immigrant experiences and the Black experience both historically and in the present. Here are some ways for young Asian Americans to talk to first-generation immigrants about misconceptions on race and why it’s important for Asian Americans to stand with BLM.
Donate to organizations serving Black communities. (Links)
Listen to Black people very carefully. They are telling us everything we need to know. Do not ask Black people, or other people of color, to educate you on white supremacy. Many answers are a Google search away.
Let the Black community lead the conversation. Do not bring anything else into the conversation that they are not speaking of.
Be humble. Watch out for feelings of fragility rising within self and look carefully into them before reacting. Do not take your fragility or questions to Black people.
Commit to and post publicly on your social media that you are dedicated to the eradication of white supremacy. While you catch up, Black people continue to die. Focus on building our numbers, not being right. Help resource the work of Black-led groups that are fighting for police accountability and abolition
Do not tone police or point at another “problem” by saying, “What about…” or “But how does violence beat violence?” This is gaslighting.
Go to the streets and demand justice. If you are white, use your bodies as shields to protect Black people from police violence. This is the clearest demonstration of the power of your whiteness. Join fights to defund the police.
Read. Below are a bunch of recommended anti-racist readings.
Challenge and educate your family and communities. No non-Black community is free from anti-Blackness. Make a commitment to “organize your own” for the long haul.
Be actively and vocally anti-racist. Come out as anti-racist and invite others to join you
Don't feel obligated to defend property – especially corporate "private" property. Before confronting someone or contacting the police, ask yourself if anyone is being hurt or endangered by property "theft" or damage. If the answer is no, then let it be.
If something of yours is stolen and you need to file a report for insurance or other purposes, consider going to the police station instead of bringing cops into your community. You may inadvertently be putting someone in your neighborhood at risk.
If you observe someone exhibiting behavior that seems "odd" to you, don't assume they are publicly intoxicated or on drugs. A traumatic brain injury or similar medical episode may be occurring. Ask if they are okay, if they have a medical condition, and if they need assistance.
If you see someone pulled over with car trouble, stop and ask if they need help or if you can call a tow truck for them. If the police are involved, they might give unnecessary tickets to people with car issues, target those without papers, or worse.
Keep a contact list of community resources like suicide hotlines. When people are contacted to "manage" such situations, people with mental illness are 16x more likely to be killed by cops than those without mental health challenges.
Check your impulse to call the police on someone you believe looks or is acting "suspicious." Is their race, gender, ethnicity, class, or housing situation influencing your choice? Such calls can be death sentences for many people.